Why Congress to Campus should not be held

Why Congress to Campus should not be held

Kamini Ramakrishna, Editor-in-Chief

During my scroll through the Mac Daily on Thursday, Sept. 22, nothing seemed amiss at first. Running on a less than ideal amount of sleep, I skimmed through event titles and at first the only thing that caught my eye was “(R-Fla.)” and “(D-Ariz.)”. Huh, I thought. Then I looked closer.

It’s that time of year again folks: my liberal arts college is organizing an event where my rights will be debated (publicly) by geriatric cisgender white men. What is more astounding is the fact that if I want to view this public debate about my rights, I’ll have to reserve a ticket.

Dennis Ross, a Republican from Florida, and Sam Coppersmith, a Democrat from Arizona, are going to get up on the stage of Mairs Concert Hall and engage in some sort of debate about whether it was justified for Roe v. Wade to be overturned, and consequently whether people with uteruses have a constitutional right to an abortion in the United States. The Mac Daily entry mentions our current “polarized moment,” and states that “part of our community’s work includes practicing how to communicate across differences, including differing political perspectives.” 

Let me make something clear to Macalester College. Human rights are not political. No one with a uterus asked to see two actively disintegrating white men “vigorously disagree” about whether we should be allowed to have bodily autonomy. Oh, Coppersmith, the Democrat from Arizona, is actually in support of my right to choose? That’s so great. I love when an old white politician who hasn’t held political office since 1995 and runs a blog titled LiberalDesert stands up for my basic human rights. Thanks, Sam!

If Macalester really wants to practice communicating across differences, the issue of abortion is absolutely not appropriate. “Differences” in perspective regarding abortion have lead to the deaths of actual people, and actively continue to do so now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned. Access to reproductive healthcare is a real and pressing issue for many Macalester students, and seeing this access debated on a public stage is guaranteed to be traumatizing for such students. For how social justice-oriented Macalester claims to be, I am surprised and appalled that an event like this has been planned.

An event ticket reservation confirmation email also mentions the fact that signs will not be permitted during the event. It seems as if the organizers of the event understand what they are getting themselves into, and are taking some precautions which include the limitation of free speech amongst the student body.

Besides what is obviously horrific about this situation, a quick look at Ross’s Wikipedia page reveals that along with his anti-abortion beliefs, he is also Islamophobic and anti-immigrant. Once again I am personally very surprised that the Macalester I know is welcoming a politician with openly xenophobic and anti-immigrant views to its campus. What about all those international students that it constantly claims to care about? Furthermore, why is Macalester welcoming a person who espouses hate speech to address its campus community in the first place?

Macalester College needs to cancel this event and issue an apology for the ways in which it was prepared to traumatize its student body by holding this event. Maybe next time it wants to help its community practice communicating across differences, it should be more in touch with the needs of said community. In this case, it clearly was not.

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